Friday, November 7, 2014

You Don't Want to Go to Paris? You Must Be Crazy!

Ever met someone who didn’t want to go to Paris? It seems unlikely, but that’s why true life is stranger than fiction!  Actually, I was flabbergasted. She didn't seem to know about the Louvre, the Eiffel power, the Marmottan, the Rodin Museum, or the Picasso Museum. What would you have said? Read the whole story:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Zuerich Window Cat

Does your cat ever stand in the doorway or sleep on the window ledge? For a quick trip to Zuerich, read the poem by this indecisive furball:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Greece Is a Wild Place!

For a quick trip to Greece (Athens, Iraklion, Hania), check out this new movie! Action, beaches, romance, regrets, and.... murder! (Oh, yes, and Oscar Isaac!)


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Orvieto Who?

I'm hosting this week's blog on my website. In it I cover some aspects of Orvieto, a town I'd never heard of before I went to teach there. The quaint town is an hour from Rome, two hours from Florence. It boasts Patrizio's Well, Luca Signorelli frescoes in the Duomo, a thriving community of artisans, and friendly people. I've been blessed to have the chance to work there!

For more about the Arizona in Italy Summer Study Abroad Program, please check out my school website:

I'll be teaching classes in Creative Non-Fiction, Film and Literature, and Shakespeare's Italian plays.

View from the Rupe

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Do Dingle!

(I'm hosting this week's blog on my website.)

Need ideas for traveling in Ireland? Check out what I learned about the Dingle Peninsula. Read about the stained glass windows of Harry Clark at St Mary's and other sites:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Things DO Go Better with Coke!

Sometimes the best things are in your own backyard, literally. Last summer when the State Journal-Register headlines in Springfield, Illinois, read “Collecting All Things Coke,” I stopped to read the whole article. Despite a health-nut boyfriend I used to have, I drink Coke. Sometimes two cans a day! But the article wasn’t about Coke drinkers. It was about Coke collectors. In fact it was about the national convention that was being held right in my hometown of Springfield at the Crowne Plaza on Dirksen Parkway.

On the last day of the convention, Saturday, July 19th, they were going to have a Coca-Cola Collectors Club swap meet. My mom and I decided to drop by. We couldn’t have been more surprised. There was a huge room full of tables that were piled high with Coke memorabilia. There were plaques and bottles and buttons. There were Christmas ornaments. There were toys and polar bears. There were items that went on the market last year and pricey items from decades ago.

The whole thing was amazing. I’ve collected a few Coke items myself over the years. But these people are serious collectors! They had the coolest stuff. As we walked around, surprised by the sheer amount of collectors and collectibles, we could hardly decide which displays to look at first.

 Another thing we noticed was that the collectors had come from all over. They were from Chicago and Miami and Philadelphia. They were from Texas and Wisconsin and New York. There were even participants from France, Germany, and Japan! I had no idea that people went so crazy for Coke. I thought I was the only one.

As I walked around with greedy eyes, a man selling Coke baseball hats chuckled. “You can always tell the collectors from the tourists,” he said. “The collectors walk around with smiles on their faces.”

I definitely had a smile. And I was glad I only had twenty dollars on me. If I’d had forty, I would have spent that too. I couldn’t resist the darling buttons from different countries or the Christmas ornaments with elves.

“How can you part with any of this stuff?” I asked a couple from the east coast.

“Believe me, we’ve got duplicates of all these things!” the man explained.

By the time I left, I had brochures for the national organization. Next year’s national convention? It’s going to be in Glendale, Arizona, which is just up state from where I live in Tucson.

If I make it to the swap meet, I’m going to bring more a lot more than twenty dollars!

Interested in starting your collection? Check out the organization:

D.R. Ransdell doesn’t just drink Coke—her characters drink it too. Check out her novel website at

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One Secret European Town I've Visited

When I encountered the delightful World of Wanderlust website, my eyes lit up when I saw the blog title “Twenty-Five Secret Small Towns in Europe You Must Visit.” I immediately went to the list to see how many of the towns I’d visited. I had to get to item 5, Bruges, before I found one I’d been to! But then I kept reading. I’d actually been to six of the towns, which means I have a lot more towns to explore. But I visited two of the towns this past summer. I wrote about Ljubjana in my previous travel blog, so today I’m detailing the other town: Annecy, France.

Annecy [pronounced ‘ahn-SEE’] is a sweet town near the Italian border. It’s close to Colmar, another famous town on the blog list, but it has a charm all its own. I wanted to visit Annecy as soon as I found out that canals ran through the town. Even without the water, I would have enjoyed the trip. (But when I reviewed my pictures, I found that I’d taken lots and lots of the canals.)

Annecy is a perfect tourist town. There’s not too much traffic. The people are friendly. The old town makes for a picturesque, historical stroll. But the town offers much more than that. It’s situated on a huge lake, Lac d’Annecy, that offers boat rides and swimming and walks around the lake’s perimeter. It’s close to mountains for hiking. It has large green areas near the lake that are perfect for picnics. It has benches and cafĂ©s that make for perfect angles for people-watching.

Even though the weather was cool, I was excited to find that my mid-June, the lake was a comfortable temperature for swimming. I only had to walk about ten minutes from the center to find a peaceful swimming area with changing rooms and fellow bathers.  Afterwards I spent a lovely afternoon walking on the peninsula near the lake. It was so beautiful I asked my friend to record Chapter Three from my new book Island Casualty with the lake in the background.

The final advantage I found to Annecy was that it’s a comfortable jumping-off point from Geneva. A two-hour train ride takes you right to town. Our charming hotel, Allobroges, was a five-minute walk from the train station. Our only problem in Annecy: we had to leave!

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